Katsina State Chief Judge, Justice Musa Abubakar, on Tuesday, warned members of the Local Government Election Petition Tribunals in the state to avoid judicial misconduct, warning that anyone of them who acts otherwise will be visited with appropriate consequences.
He gave the warning in Katsina while inaugurating chairmen and members of the petition tribunals for the state’s three senatorial zones, namely Katsina, Funtua and Daura.
The tribunals are to handle petitions and appeals that may arise from last Monday’s local government election in the state in which the All Progressives Congress won both the chairmanship and councillor seats in the 33 councils declared.
The tribunal for each zone comprises a chairman and two members, although only the names of the chairmen were made public. Hadiza Danja, Usman Kabir and Muhammed Usman were named as the chairmen of the tribunals for the three zones, while each of them was given the latitude to pick his/ her preferred zone.
Justice Abubakar said although members of the tribunal were people of impeccable character, he needed to warn them that political cases attracted pressure and interference.
The Chief Judge declared, “The overriding objective of every judicial system is to deliver justice which is the pivot and pillar that upholds the very best of decency and the best guarantee for peace, prosperity and good governance.”
“Though the justice delivery system we operate is bedevilled with the problem of delays and prolonged adjournments, the Election Petition Tribunal is a specialised court with sets of procedures, rules and practice directions to ensure speedy determination of all petitions. Third Schedule to the Local Government Councils Election Law No 4 of 2002 has specifically provided for the procedure of filing, hearing and determination of petitions. The Practice Directions No 1 of 2022 dated April 7, 2022, that I issued, has made further provisions incorporating electronic evidence, the option to adopt the Alternative Dispute Resolution and abridged service of processes, all aimed at expeditious determination of petitions.
“By the provisions of the Local Government Councils Election Law No 4 of 2002 of Katsina State, it is mandatory for the first instance tribunal to hear and determine all petitions within 90 days from the date of filing. Three tribunals have been established for the 3 Senatorial Zones of the state. This is to ensure expeditious and timely disposition of all petitions brought before the tribunals.
“Each tribunal shall comprise a chairman and two members that have just been sworn-in. I, therefore, urge you to be totally committed to ensure compliance with the law. You must equally stand firm and avoid acts and conduct that will portray you as being biased. There is no doubt that political cases are prone to pressures, you must therefore resist all forms of temptations and undue influences from any quarters.
“Appropriate disciplinary sanctions will be employed in case of any form of judicial mis-conduct in the course of this assignment.
“I am confident that the just sworn-in chairmen and members are persons with proven integrity who have been selected based on their track record of professionalism, dedication and integrity. I, therefore, urge you to consider your appointment as an additional call to duty that requires more dedication, professionalism and above all, the fear of Allah. You must appreciate that society has very high expectations from you. Integrity, transparency and good conduct are the qualities you must maintain in the discharge of this special assignment.”